Stax headphones
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Im giving thought to making the leap over to electrostatic headphones. Anyone had any experience with them?
Pros and cons please.

Alex
 
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I just got a stax 2170 and really like them. They're lightning fast and ultra detailed, it's shocking really, the way the bring out bass guitars buried in death metal mixes XD In the case of the 207 the mids?(1.5khz) And treble?(3khz) are elevated so I apply a small eq, but after that, wow... soundstage with this style(lambda) was surprisingly small, i guess the shallow pads and drivers being close to your ears, but the imaging is full, if im describing that right.

Heres the innerfidelity measurement:
http://www.innerfidelity.com/images/StaxSR207SB2217.pdf
And the eq i use:
20180930_203700.jpg

I got the 2170(srm 252s amp and sr207 earspeakers) used in like new less then 20 hours, for $300 off audiogon, having watched the used markets for a while I think I got lucky.
 
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Pros: Better detail, a smoother more relaxed presentation of detail, better and more 3d imaging, reasonably flat frequency response, fast and smooth transients, will never smear detail or sound compressed regardless of the music.

Cons: Top tier models are expensive, basic models look cheap, can lack bass impact without a third-party amplifier, needs a dedicated electrostatic amplifier, and you can get a flatter frequency response still for less money.

The basic Stax systems are very good for the money, and I would start there, or maybe get something like an L500/L700 with a 353x or 006t amp. Apply some EQ to flatten them out a little bit. Enjoy. But be warned that electrostatics are something of a Pandora's box, they don't follow the same rules that other headphones do, and it is possible to dump lots, and I do mean LOTS of money into an electrostatic rig chasing marginal improvements. You can do the same thing with a dynamic rig, of course, but electrostatics make those improvements a little bit more obvious and easier to hear, so there is more incentive to chase them.

You'll need a good source too. However these days good sources don't have to be expensive. Also electrostatics will generally reveal recording problems to a greater extent than other systems, so if you listen to a lot of badly recorded material, then they may not be the best choice. For well recorded material they're pure magic, IMO the best there is. But for badly recorded material I still reach for the HD650.

[Edit: and yes, electrostatic headphones and metal actually go together pretty damn well. Recordings that used to sound like a fuzzy wall of sound suddenly become clear and distinct instruments.]
 
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I have only owned members of the upper echelon, the SR-007A (current production) and SR-009, and I've listened to the SR-007Mk1 a few times.

Pros
  • If your system is elite enough, something like the one in my signature or better, their sound quality is just beyond what non-electrostats can reach. Still not for everyone of course; someone who favors Audeze thickness or blinding bass cannons like the Fostex TH-900 won't care much for the Stax. But no non-electrostat is capable of delivering the same transparency, detail, quickness/speed (if using a "fast" DAC), openness, and instrumental fullness/impact (if using a DAC that isn't "soft") particularly when compared to the SR-009 and presumably SR-009S. I elaborate more in my review, which has very similar impressions compared to what was written in Innerfidelity's "Comparing World Class Headphones" review.
  • SR-007's current price is a bargain compared to other really high end headphones.
  • SR-007 build quality is amazing, one of the best I've come across in headphones.
  • SR-007, SR-009, and SR-009S are some of the most comfortable headphones. They all use suspension headband designs (though they won't get large enough for super heavyweights I'd think) with the inner headband being leather, soft leather pads (full lambskin on the SR-007 and also super thick, not sure why SR-009/009S use hybrid fake/real leather).

Cons
  • Not only do you need a very high end system to bring the best out of them (do not bother with the SR-009/SR-009S on anything less), but they are also picky about synergy. My SR-009 review goes into it more. Avoid DACs with a soft, laid back sound signature.
  • The SR-009 and presumably SR-009S are so revealing of the rest of the audio chain (SR-007 is super revealing here too but far more forgiving). Generic cheap interconnects ruin the sound, I suggest the Kimber Kable Hero/equivalent or better. The Chord Mojo is one of the best sub $1,000 DACs you can get, but it ruins my SR-009 system. Again I would not be using the SR-009 on such a system.
  • They require unique amplifiers that cannot be used to drive other headphones.
  • If you want an SR-009 (and presumably SR-009S), you should spend $4,000+ on an amp in my opinion. The KGSSHV Carbon is the lowest priced amp I'd recommend for it, not that it's worse than other even more expensive amps mind you, it is one of my most recommended Stax amps. And you need at least a KGSSHV (can be had for just over $2,000 now) for the SR-007/009/009S to start to clearly become special.
  • While there is now a portable amp solution, it's still $900.
  • You need to care for them more. Keep them away from humidity, dust, sunlight.
  • Non-removable cable is somewhat of a longevity concern. Again, take real good care of Stax headphones.
 
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Can't thank you all enough for the input and taking the time to run me through the nitty gritty .. Cheers

Alex

I have only owned members of the upper echelon, the SR-007A (current production) and SR-009, and I've listened to the SR-007Mk1 a few times.

Pros
  • If your system is elite enough, something like the one in my signature or better, their sound quality is just beyond what non-electrostats can reach. Still not for everyone of course; someone who favors Audeze thickness or blinding bass cannons like the Fostex TH-900 won't care much for the Stax. But no non-electrostat is capable of delivering the same transparency, detail, quickness/speed (if using a "fast" DAC), openness, and instrumental fullness/impact (if using a DAC that isn't "soft") particularly when compared to the SR-009 and presumably SR-009S. I elaborate more in my review, which has very similar impressions compared to what was written in Innerfidelity's "Comparing World Class Headphones" review.
  • SR-007's current price is a bargain compared to other really high end headphones.
  • SR-007 build quality is amazing, one of the best I've come across in headphones.
  • SR-007, SR-009, and SR-009S are some of the most comfortable headphones. They all use suspension headband designs (though they won't get large enough for super heavyweights I'd think) with the inner headband being leather, soft leather pads (full lambskin on the SR-007 and also super thick, not sure why SR-009/009S use hybrid fake/real leather).

Cons
  • Not only do you need a very high end system to bring the best out of them (do not bother with the SR-009/SR-009S on anything less), but they are also picky about synergy. My SR-009 review goes into it more. Avoid DACs with a soft, laid back sound signature.
  • The SR-009 and presumably SR-009S are so revealing of the rest of the audio chain (SR-007 is super revealing here too but far more forgiving). Generic cheap interconnects ruin the sound, I suggest the Kimber Kable Hero/equivalent or better. The Chord Mojo is one of the best sub $1,000 DACs you can get, but it ruins my SR-009 system. Again I would not be using the SR-009 on such a system.
  • They require unique amplifiers that cannot be used to drive other headphones.
  • If you want an SR-009 (and presumably SR-009S), you should spend $4,000+ on an amp in my opinion. The KGSSHV Carbon is the lowest priced amp I'd recommend for it, not that it's worse than other even more expensive amps mind you, it is one of my most recommended Stax amps. And you need at least a KGSSHV (can be had for just over $2,000 now) for the SR-007/009/009S to start to clearly become special.
  • While there is now a portable amp solution, it's still $900.
  • You need to care for them more. Keep them away from humidity, dust, sunlight.
  • Non-removable cable is somewhat of a longevity concern. Again, take real good care of Stax headphones.
 
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Im giving thought to making the leap over to electrostatic headphones. Anyone had any experience with them?
Pros and cons please.

Alex
I had the SR-007 mk2, they were great for the first couple of weeks. then i sold them, because i found myself using other headphones more than the Stax.
Tips from my experience:
1. Dust shield is 1000% manditory
2. They get warm while on the head
3. Since they're open back, any noise in the room (PC running noise or other) will ruin the sound you're experiencing. i've noticed the environment for me had to be even quieter than normal for me to really enjoy the STAX headphones. i have other open back headphones and they didnt need as much quiet to sound great.
4. Cables for these types of headphones i've noticed are EXTREMELY long, more than they need to be so that depends on you if its a pro or con.
5. Cables are extremely cheaply made, including the connectors. I wasnt able to find a proper after market cable to replace them without paying an outrageous amount of money for the cable (it was around 300$) which imo is too much.
6. Sometimes it would take a while for the headphones to balance out and adjust to a good sound when compared to regular dynamic headphones.

for now this is all i can remember off hand while at work, if you have any questions reply to this or PM me.
 
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Stax cables have a reputation of being good quality. A standard ribbon, and silver plated wire that's said to be of high quality. The only connector related issues I have read about have nothing to do with the cable, but the cable entry point on the SR-007Mk1. The cable doesn't seem cheaply made to me, even if the connector isn't the same quality as say a Cardas XLR connector.
 
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Since they're open back, any noise in the room (PC running noise or other) will ruin the sound you're experiencing. i've noticed the environment for me had to be even quieter than normal for me to really enjoy the STAX headphones. i have other open back headphones and they didnt need as much quiet to sound great.
This suprised the hell out of me, first time I turned them on I had a fan going, and the slight attenuation made it sound like a -40db signal to noise ratio xD turned the fan off and it was dead quiet obviously, but they really don't block any noise, even compared to the open headphones I have, an el-8, hd650, and he400i. That being said for my style of music its ok, but if you're listening to music with alot of quiet passages and have high ambient noise in the room that could definitely be distracting, which is true of all open headphones but moreso for the stax comparatively.
20181003_154513.jpg 20181003_154435.jpg
 
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I had the SR-007 mk2, they were great for the first couple of weeks. then i sold them, because i found myself using other headphones more than the Stax.
Tips from my experience:
1. Dust shield is 1000% manditory
2. They get warm while on the head
3. Since they're open back, any noise in the room (PC running noise or other) will ruin the sound you're experiencing. i've noticed the environment for me had to be even quieter than normal for me to really enjoy the STAX headphones. i have other open back headphones and they didnt need as much quiet to sound great.
4. Cables for these types of headphones i've noticed are EXTREMELY long, more than they need to be so that depends on you if its a pro or con.
5. Cables are extremely cheaply made, including the connectors. I wasnt able to find a proper after market cable to replace them without paying an outrageous amount of money for the cable (it was around 300$) which imo is too much.
6. Sometimes it would take a while for the headphones to balance out and adjust to a good sound when compared to regular dynamic headphones.

for now this is all i can remember off hand while at work, if you have any questions reply to this or PM me.
I have to say from my own experience I cannot agree on any of these points:

1) maybe it's just me who actually vacuums the home frequently and frees my desk from dust regularly ... but honestly if you live in a "normal-dustlevel" home you really don't need a dust shield.
2) not on my head ... actually since they are so open it's quite the opposite, they ventilate very well
3) if you need sound proofing use closed cans. Also, if you can afford an SR-007 you can probably afford some quiet fans for your PC too ^^
4) cable lenth is pretty standard, not very short but good lenth in general.
5) no point in changing stax cables - quality is awesome and they are not detachable anyway
6) never had this issue ... anybody else can comment on that?

Your "Tips" sound more like you're justifying to yourself why you sold these headphones

Myself I still like them :)
 
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I have to say from my own experience I cannot agree on any of these points:

1) maybe it's just me who actually vacuums the home frequently and frees my desk from dust regularly ... but honestly if you live in a "normal-dustlevel" home you really don't need a dust shield.
2) not on my head ... actually since they are so open it's quite the opposite, they ventilate very well
3) if you need sound proofing use closed cans. Also, if you can afford an SR-007 you can probably afford some quiet fans for your PC too ^^
4) cable lenth is pretty standard, not very short but good lenth in general.
5) no point in changing stax cables - quality is awesome and they are not detachable anyway
6) never had this issue ... anybody else can comment on that?

Your "Tips" sound more like you're justifying to yourself why you sold these headphones

Myself I still like them :)
I agree with you actually, although I will say that while the cable is a common length, the common length is overkill.

They never heated up my head and #6 makes no sense to me. Maybe it was his amplifier? The headphones themselves are good to go once the amp turns on and they get their charge. Zero burn-in, and I don't see why a warm up time would be required nor have I ever heard that.
 
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I agree with you actually, although I will say that while the cable is a common length, the common length is overkill.

They never heated up my head and #6 makes no sense to me. Maybe it was his amplifier? The headphones themselves are good to go once the amp turns on and they get their charge. Zero burn-in, and I don't see why a warm up time would be required nor have I ever heard that.
The amp was a Stax amp a friend let me borrow since at the time i didnt have a dedicated stax amp to use. it could of been his amp, so no.6 might not be 100% valid for all stax, just my own experience.
 
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I have to say from my own experience I cannot agree on any of these points:

1) maybe it's just me who actually vacuums the home frequently and frees my desk from dust regularly ... but honestly if you live in a "normal-dustlevel" home you really don't need a dust shield.
2) not on my head ... actually since they are so open it's quite the opposite, they ventilate very well
3) if you need sound proofing use closed cans. Also, if you can afford an SR-007 you can probably afford some quiet fans for your PC too ^^
4) cable lenth is pretty standard, not very short but good lenth in general.
5) no point in changing stax cables - quality is awesome and they are not detachable anyway
6) never had this issue ... anybody else can comment on that?

Your "Tips" sound more like you're justifying to yourself why you sold these headphones

Myself I still like them :)
I dont need to justify why i sold them because i mentioned i just didnt enjoy it as much as other headphones ive had. they were good headphones, i dont regret owning them or selling them. just i grew out of the honeymoon phase with thoes headphones specifically.
 
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I'm a new Stax owner and I certainly want to protect this investment. I've heard that due to the open design and the ultra-thin membrane of the speaker, Stax are extremely sensitive to dust. So much so that they should always be covered or stored away when not in use (rather than on a headphone stand). What does the crowd say about this?
 
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I'm a new Stax owner and I certainly want to protect this investment. I've heard that due to the open design and the ultra-thin membrane of the speaker, Stax are extremely sensitive to dust. So much so that they should always be covered or stored away when not in use (rather than on a headphone stand). What does the crowd say about this?
Yes, but its not that theyre sensitive to dust, due to the electrostatic nature they attract more dust. So yes cover them with a stax bag when not in use.
 
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